Mapo Dofu and Angel Food Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

by Kelly on October 11, 2009

Iron Chef may be one of television’s finest creations. And lest you think I’m recommending Food Network’s knockoff show Iron Chef America, I’m not. I’m referring to the original Japanese Iron Chef with dubbed in voices, wacky commentary, and often grotesque dishes (which more often than not involve some poor animal’s liver or reproductive parts). I first saw Iron Chef in the 90s on my first trip to New York. I still remember randomly stumbling across the competitive cooking show while staying up late watching cable. Reuben and I were instantly addicted. Unfortunately, being poor college kids at the time, we didn’t get cable or access to Iron Chef until several years later. Now, we are the proud owners of a nearly complete set of dubbed Iron Chef episodes and a limited edition Iron Chef board game (how geeky!). Though Iron Chef is great entertainment, I wouldn’t want to eat everything that’s prepared on the show, such as cod roe ice cream. On the other hand, there are a few dishes that look too good not to try out, one of them being Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi’s Mapo Dofu. Though Chen cooks this tofu dish regularly in competition, I’ve only seen it on the menu of a handful of Chinese restaurants. I made the mistake of ordering it once in Salt Lake City — not the best place for authentic Chinese. After eating that blander-than-bland version, I figured I couldn’t do much worse at home. Reuben did some research and came up with a fantastic recipe. I’m not sure how close it is to the Iron Chef’s dish, but we love it.

If you haven’t had homemade angel food cake, you’re really missing out. The Styrofoam-like store-bought versions can’t hold a candle to a fresh-baked angel food cake. Tonight’s cake was leftover from my father-in-law’s birthday party. I made two cakes for the party, one with chocolate whipped cream frosting and the other with a lemon glaze. Though both were good, the chocolate version looked prettier. Of course I forgot to take a picture, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

Mapo Tofu

Quick and Easy Mapo Dofu
adapted from

Serves 4

1/2 lb (225 g) ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
pinch of cornstarch
1 package firm tofu, drained
4 green onions
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons oil, for stir-frying
1/4 teaspoon sambal or chili paste with garlic
2 tablespoons black bean sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn or ground coriander
rice, to serve

Marinate the ground pork in the soy sauce and cornstarch for 15 to 20 minutes. While pork is marinating, cut the tofu into 1/2‑inch cubes, cut the green onions on the diagonal into 1‑inch pieces, and peel and mince the garlic.

Heat a wok or large skillet over a high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chili paste and garlic. Stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the ground pork and stir-fry until the pork is nearly cooked through.

Lower the heat to medium and add the black bean sauce, tofu and green onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tofu is browned (8 to 10 minutes). Add water as needed. Just before serving, sprinkle with the Szechuan peppercorn or ground coriander. Serve over rice.


Angel Food Supreme Cake
adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook/40th Anniversary Edition

Serves 10

3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 cup (115 g) cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites (about 11 eggs’ worth)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Whisk together 3/4 cup sugar and flour; set aside.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Beat in the granulated sugar 2 tablespoons at a time on high speed, until the meringue holds stiff peaks. Fold in the vanilla, almond extract and salt. Sprinkle the sugar-flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, over the egg white mixture, folding in until the sugar-flour mixture disappears. Push the batter into a 10-inch ungreased angel food cake pan (tube pan). Cut gently through the batter with a butter knife to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and springs back when touched lightly. Invert the pan onto a heatproof funnel or wine bottle. Let it hang until the cake is completely cool. Loosen the side of the cake with a knife and remove from the pan. Cut with a serrated knife to serve.


Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
from Bon Appétit, October 1991

1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (60 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
pinch of cream of tartar
2 cups (480 ml) chilled whipping cream

Whisk the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk and cream of tartar in a large bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead.)

Using an electric mixer, gradually beat the cream into the chocolate mixture. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Place the cake on a platter. Spread the top and sides of cake with icing. Slice into wedges and serve.

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